Mountain Bike Body Armor Review: Chest Protectors
TO PROTECT OR NOT TO PROTECT?
Review Sponsored by CompetitiveCyclist.com
MTB chest protectors, spine guards, body armor, no matter what you call it, mountain bikers have long searched for ways to stay safe and reduce the chances of serious injury without being too hot or uncomfortable. Over the years, protective gear has improved greatly, from being thick and bulky plastic pieces to the Dainese Pressure suit era in the early 2000s to today’s minimalist mindset, mountain bike protection has evolved and styles have changed. Technological advances in impact absorbing materials like D3O, VPD, and other non-Newtonian “foam” that stiffens upon impact have changed the face of protection from shoe insoles and knee pads up to these torso and chest protectors.
Not all riders feel the need to wear an MTB chest protector when mountain biking, and understandably so. Not everyone is pushing the envelope day in and day out, and the heat and discomfort may not be worth it for your 15 mile XC pedal. If you’re anything like us though, you know sometimes a little extra sweat and discomfort is worth it. We’re sure there have been more than a few riders who have said those same words after a crash, “I should’ve worn my pads today.” Here’s pieces we’ve been testing out over the last couple of years that we think are worthy of your consideration. From long sleeve to sleeveless and minimalist spine protection, brands have just about anything you could want to keep you safe and offer some peace of mind.
Our biggest tip to find the best MTB body armor is to really consider what you want out of your body armor. Meaning, what do you land on most, or what are you most afraid of injuring?
Second, we’d suggest you really evaluate how much protection you think you’re going to wear. Buying the thickest, safest, most heavy-duty protector is just a waste of money if you just keep it in your gear bag because you hate how hot or uncomfortable it is. Sometimes a thinner layer of protection that you always wear is better than the burly one sitting in your car.
Here are a few of our favorite MTB chest protectors and body armor pieces we’ve been wearing over the last couple years.